With its long coastline and convenient northern geography, Oslo is becoming vital to NATO’s increasingly confrontational relationship with Moscow. The bloc’s missile defense systems require a base from which to target Russian rockets which, if launched as part of a retaliatory strike against Western Europe, would almost certainly come flying across the frozen Arctic.
For that reason, the country and the waters around it have played host to more and more foreign troops and exercises. On top of that, Washington has said that Norway has a role to play in countering Russia’s oil and gas empire by developing an East-West maritime channel in its shareof the Arctic, designed to counter Russia’s North Sea Route.
Turning the Scandinavian country into a battlefront state in the Far North is a major twist in the tale of the Arctic which, until relatively recently, has generally been an area of co-operation, insulated from geopolitical rivalry. It has also been a long process, and flown in the face of Oslo’s earlier intentions to enhance peace and strike a balance between those with a share in the region.